Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Reasonable Doubt (2014) - movie review

Reasonable Doubt is a recent movie, and the fact that it reached the television screen very quickly is, I'm afraid, easily explained. It begins with an intriguing situation slightly reminiscent of that brilliant Kenneth Fearing novel The Big Clock (splendidly filmed twice), but an attempt to ring the changes  on the basic storyline descends into bathos long before the end. The director, Peter Howitt, once an actor in Bread, and later director of that truly excellent film Sliding Doors, apparently decided to direct this film under a pseudonym, and you don't need to be Inspector Morse to figure out why.

The film begins in a Chicago courtroom. We're introduced to Mitch, a young hot-shot lawyer played by Dominic Cooper. I'm afraid I took an instant dislike to Mitch, and his "brilliant" closing speech, which seemed to me madly unprofessional. But what do I know? After all, lucky old Mitch, has never lost a case. He is married with a baby, but his family life never becomes interesting to the viewer, and this failure to encourage us to empathise with Mitch is fatal to enjoyment.

Mitch goes out and gets drunk with his pals, and then knocks someone down. He calls for help before fleeing the scene, but the victim dies. Before long Mitch finds himself prosecuting a chap (Samuel L. Jackson, who is less compelling than usual) accused of murdering the victim, and has to find a way to exculpate the falsely accused defendant. From there, the plot thickens...

Unfortunately, we don't really care about any of the characters, and the twists in the plot seem contrived and unsatisfactory. With the basic premise, a decent screenplay could have produced better results, but although I very much prefer to avoid giving negative reviews,, Reasonable Doubt has to rank as a very weak effort. I don't always agree with the verdicts of the Rotten Tomatoes site, but in this case an approval rating of 13% seems about right. However, my next film review will return to positivity, and will be of something I can safely recommend.

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